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NEWS: FinCEN awards law enforcement agencies which used BSA to launch criminal investigations

FinCEN LEA AWARDS: “While these awards recognize our law enforcement partners who have effectively used BSA data in their investigations, it is important to emphasize that these investigations and prosecutions may not have been possible without financial institutions’ efforts to identify and report suspicious activity,” said FinCEN Director Andrea Gacki during today's ceremony. Safeguarding the financial system and promoting national security is a collective effort.”

By AML Intelligence Correspondent

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today (Thursday) recognized law enforcement agencies that used Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) data to successfully pursue and prosecute criminal investigations.

“While these awards recognize our law enforcement partners who have effectively used BSA data in their investigations, it is important to emphasize that these investigations and prosecutions may not have been possible without financial institutions’ efforts to identify and report suspicious activity,” said FinCEN Director Andrea Gacki during the ceremony.

“Safeguarding the financial system and promoting national security is a collective effort,” she told the ninth annual Law Enforcement Awards Program eventy.

Financial industry representatives and law enforcement officials participated in the ceremony. Brief descriptions of the award-receiving cases, below:

Fraud Award

AWARDEES: Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General

Investigators used BSA filings to identify more than 150 loans totaling approximately $21 million in a massive pandemic relief fraud ring. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the Department of Justice’s Fraud Section prosecuted this case.

Drug Trafficking Organization Activity Award

AWARDEE: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Forensic accountants used complex analytics to review BSA data and other financial records to identify suspicious transactions in U.S. bank wire entries and trace illicit proceeds across three continents. The United States Attorney’s Offices for the Southern District of New York and the Southern District of Florida prosecuted the cases, with assistance from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.

Transnational Criminal Organization Activity Award

AWARDEE: Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Investigators made extensive use of FinCEN’s programs and resources to aid this investigation, resulting in the seizure of approximately 4.5 metric tons of cocaine hydrochloride in South America bound for the United States. While searching BSA filings on one of the primary subjects, investigators identified additional information that led to the discovery of a money laundering, poly-drug trafficking, and human smuggling empire. This case was jointly prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.

Proliferation Financing Award

AWARDEES: Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and Homeland Security Investigations

Information received from BSA filings as well as FinCEN’s 314(a) program led to nine defendants being charged with, among other things, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. As a result of this investigation and prosecution, law enforcement recovered approximately $3 million worth of electronics and communications. This case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.

Cybercrime Award

AWARDEES: U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Postal Inspection Service

This investigation focused on individuals laundering the proceeds from a business email compromise scheme. BSA information was crucial in identifying accounts and co-conspirators, ultimately leading to successful convictions. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted this case.

Corruption Investigation Award

AWARDEES: IRS-CI , HSI and Global Illicit Financial Team

While investigating third-party money laundering, the Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation and Global Illicit Financial Team identified a money remitter who was an investment advisor controlling several U.S. and foreign companies. BSA data revealed that Homeland Security Investigations had also initiated a separate investigation; the agencies were able to merge their efforts. The Department of Justice’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the criminal cases. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida is handling the asset forfeiture case.

Human Trafficking/Human Smuggling Inquiry Award

AWARDEE: Dept of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section

BSA reporting provided critical leads during this multi-year investigation. Several law enforcement agencies and non-profit entities worked together to bring justice to the 17 victims who cooperated with law enforcement and hundreds of other victims who were subjected to the defendants’ abuse. The United States Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.

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